Feb 3, 2009

Peacemakers: Taking ministry to the streets

by Tiffany Edwards

Many people wonder how dancing terms such as “toprocks,” “drops” and “power moves” pertain to ministry. For a group known as The Peacemakers, the terms define its ministry. Peacemakers is currently the only ministry at Liberty that ministers through break dancing, or “b-boying” — a dynamic and acrobatic style of hip-hop dancing.

Liberty’s Peacemakers is a branch of a larger break dance crew based in California, also known as Peacemakers. The local crew was originally started in August of 2007, when members Isaac Lucero (known as B-boy Oath) and Benjamin Rushing (B-boy Armory) met at an Urban Affairs event, sponsored by the Center4ME.

“Both of us b-boyed and started dancing together. I guess you could say that we were the founders of Peacemakers, but we did not have the name,” Lucero said. “Maybe a month later, we were introduced to Joe Johnson (B-boy Rizen) in the Schilling Center. He came from Peacemakers (California) and offered to start Peacemakers (Virginia). It was then when we recruited members and started Peacemakers.”

Break dancing is actually an umbrella term, referring to three specific styles of dancing known as b-boying, popping and locking. Developed in 1976 in The Bronx, three years after the “birth of hip-hop”, break dancing became popular in the 1980s as evidenced by its excessive use in advertising. After fading out of the spotlight in the mid-1980s, break dancing gradually grew into a structured form of dance and a key element in hip-hop culture. The term “b-boy” is short for “break boy.” The term was coined because b-boys and b-girls generally dance to the “breaks” in the music that DJs create.

The members of Peacemakers were interested in doing something many people would be able to relate to, and giving the group a means to witness to a variety of individuals.

“ It’s amazing how much of a difference it can make just to go out to competitions and have people seeing you kill a set and then, as you’re talking with people, just to mention ‘God bless you’ as you’re leaving,” Peacemaker member Ethan Massey said. “It’s incredible how many people that leaves an impression on and how many conversations start because of it.”

While the Peacemakers have been establishing themselves more and more at Liberty over the past year and a half, the team still has a fair amount of obstacles to overcome as its ministry expands.

“We’ll practice literally in the streets when the time calls for it. We’re constantly getting kicked out of places, sometimes for no other reason than it annoys them,” Rushing said. “One reason why we don’t look for a lot of church performances is because much of the church still views b-boying and break dancing in a negative light. Unfortunately, (it is the) same for many at Liberty.”

Despite the difficulties of establishing a new ministry, Peacemakers meets each challenge it faces head-on. The mission of the group is to grow in fellowship with Christ and each other.

“(We want) to use hip-hop to reach a culture who may not find Christ in any other way. We directly focus on the b-boy culture and urban communities,” Lucero said.

The Peacemakers is a diverse dance crew. The team currently has 12 members and has been gaining more since the beginning of the spring semester. Peacemakers generally attract other b-boys, b-girls and anyone in the hip-hop culture, including “energetic students with a heart for ministry and self-development,” Rushing said.

Peacemakers performed at the Liberty Flames halftime show on Jan. 27, along with DOA, J(a!r)iko and Taboo, which are fellow dance ministries sponsored by Center4ME. Currently, the team is working on choreography for the upcoming Spring CoffeeHouse.

The Peacemakers also travel to other competitions and expositions across Virginia and as far north as Washington, D.C. The group is currently planning a trip to Florida over spring break to “jam” with other dance crews and also establish some ministry work. Additionally, the crew intends to raise money for a trip to New York, where break dancing is more popular among urban youth.

Contact Tiffany Edwards at

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